MUSHISHI (蟲師) – SEASON 1 EPISODE 12 – Fragrant Darkness

Wonderful episode, possibly one of my top favorites.

It’s about a man who is troubled by the sense of having forgotten something he cannot remember. Whenever he smells the scent of flowers, it triggers unsettling emotions followed by a profound sense of deja-vu.

Well, as it turns out, a Kairou (a pitch-dark mushi shaped like a hollow tube that lures in insects and beasts by exuding a floral scent in caves) is causing him to relive the same life over and over, at least up to the point of him falling into the Kairou’s trap.

Though he’s not 100 percent sure about what’s going on, he eventually has an opportunity to share his concerns with the main character. That is, in one of the infinite time loops, he explains that it feels as if he’s experienced the same moments more than once.

The main character, then, replies that such cases involving time loops are impossible to verify, but he should nonetheless ignore the Kairou’s floral scent when he and it meet again. The mere fact he’s starting to realize he’s in a time loop suggests that the Kairou may be ready to make him a part of it.

Decades go by and the man is once again at the Kairou’s doorstep, a foreboding cave. Rather than enter, he ultimately chooses to walk away. He returns home and embraces his wife outside of their home. Deep down, the man knows he is experiencing a new memory with his wife for the first time.

They continue to live the rest of their lives blissfully–that is, until one day an accident befalls the man’s wife in a neighboring forest. To his dismay, he discovers his wife bleeding to death at the bottom of a small cliff. He places her on his back and rushes to the nearest town.

However, as time goes by, he feels her body growing colder.

“She’s going to die,” he thought. “I don’t want to lose my wife!”

Just when all hope seemed lost, a floral scent stops him in his tracks. He realizes he’s at the Kairou’s cave.

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What to do? Should I let my wife die or risk reliving the same lifetime over again? It would also mean ensnaring my wife in the same never-ending time loop and perhaps someday being consumed by the Kairou. 

He decides to enter the cave, treading lightly with his wife on his back. Moments later they start their lives anew, at the moment when they first met in a field of dancing cherry blossoms.

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I can understand why he did what he did. I suppose such an existence would be a better alternative to death.

The end of one’s life…sigh. The universe is indeed tragically interesting.